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Composite ground-motion models and logic trees: Methodology, sensitivities, and uncertainties
(2005)

Logic trees have become a popular tool in seismic hazard studies. Commonly, the models corresponding to the end branches of the complete logic tree in a probabalistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) are treated separately until the final calculation of the set of hazard curves. This comes at the price that information regarding sensitivities and uncertainties in the ground-motion sections of the logic tree are only obtainable after disaggregation. Furthermore, from this end-branch model perspective even the designers of the logic tree cannot directly tell what ground-motion scenarios most likely would result from their logic trees for a given earthquake at a particular distance, nor how uncertain these scenarios might be or how they would be affected by the choices of the hazard analyst. On the other hand, all this information is already implicitly present in the logic tree. Therefore, with the ground-motion perspective that we propose in the present article, we treat the ground-motion sections of a complete logic tree for seismic hazard as a single composite model representing the complete state-of-knowledge-and-belief of a particular analyst on ground motion in a particular target region. We implement this view by resampling the ground-motion models represented in the ground-motion sections of the logic tree by Monte Carlo simulation (separately for the median values and the sigma values) and then recombining the sets of simulated values in proportion to their logic-tree branch weights. The quantiles of this resampled composite model provide the hazard analyst and the decision maker with a simple, clear, and quantitative representation of the overall physical meaning of the ground-motion section of a logic tree and the accompanying epistemic uncertainty. Quantiles of the composite model also provide an easy way to analyze the sensitivities and uncertainties related to a given logic-tree model. We illustrate this for a composite ground- motion model for central Europe. Further potential fields of applications are seen wherever individual best estimates of ground motion have to be derived from a set of candidate models, for example, for hazard rnaps, sensitivity studies, or for modeling scenario earthquakes

The PEGASOS project was a major international seismic hazard study, one of the largest ever conducted anywhere in the world, to assess seismic hazard at four nuclear power plant sites in Switzerland. Before the report of this project has become publicly available, a paper attacking both methodology and results has appeared. Since the general scientific readership may have difficulty in assessing this attack in the absence of the report being attacked, we supply a response in the present paper. The bulk of the attack, besides some misconceived arguments about the role of uncertainties in seismic hazard analysis, is carried by some exercises that purport to be validation exercises. In practice, they are no such thing; they are merely independent sets of hazard calculations based on varying assumptions and procedures, often rather questionable, which come up with various different answers which have no particular significance. (C) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Logic trees are widely used in probabilistic seismic hazard analysis as a tool to capture the epistemic uncertainty associated with the seismogenic sources and the ground-motion prediction models used in estimating the hazard. Combining two or more ground-motion relations within a logic tree will generally require several conversions to be made, because there are several definitions available for both the predicted ground-motion parameters and the explanatory parameters within the predictive ground-motion relations. Procedures for making conversions for each of these factors are presented, using a suite of predictive equations in current use for illustration. The sensitivity of the resulting ground-motion models to these conversions is shown to be pronounced for some of the parameters, especially the measure of source-to-site distance, highlighting the need to take into account any incompatibilities among the selected equations. Procedures are also presented for assigning weights to the branches in the ground-motion section of the logic tree in a transparent fashion, considering both intrinsic merits of the individual equations and their degree of applicability to the particular application